This Colorado Hike Deserves Your Labor Day Weekend
Not long ago I had never heard of Colorado's Manitou Incline. Back in April 2018, this hike was on the news every single day. With that in mind, I thought it best to check it out. With the Labor Day weekend close at hand, you should too.
Seriously, this hike was on the news every day in April. It went viral on Facebook with people calling it "Colorado's Craziest Climb." A few days later, a double amputee, Mandy Horvath, made national news after completing the climb.
Since that time I've become something of a fan of Mandy Horvath. I've followed her adventures via YouTube and other social media outlets. Mandy's example is giving me the urge to climb it again over the Labor Day weekend.
I think of myself as a hiking enthusiast. No one would consider me a hiking pro, and certainly not a mountain climber. At the end of the day, a fun, and yes, challenging, hike is something I look forward to. When it was all said and done, Manitou Incline raised the bar a little and gave me a new perspective on hikes. I picked up a few pointers along the way, and it's improved all of my hikes since.
This was far more challenging than I thought. Based on various videos, I assumed this hike to be roughly comparable to climbing Western Colorado's Mt. Garfield. Guess again. I would say this hike is at least twice the difficulty of Mt. Garfield. Since completing Manitou Incline, Mt. Garfield now feels like a breeze.
There is a mid-way point where you can bail out and walk a winding trail back to the bottom. I had already passed this point when considering the idea of giving up. To turn back, though, would mean heading down a few hundred steps, and then catching the trail down. A nice lady assured me it wouldn't be much more difficult to keep going.
Here's a look at one of the most wonderful things you'll ever see - the last few steps of the Manitou Incline. Do you hear that puffing and panting in the background. That's me.
From the bottom to the top, total hiking time came to a little less than two hours. To get down via the more civil and far more gradual trail, about forty-five minutes.
How do you find it? Make your way to Manitou Springs, just outside of Colorado Springs. The trailhead is at 7 Hydro Street. There are parking areas nearby, but they cost money, and some require reservations. The best options for parking are parking at the free lot near Memorial Park and taking the free shuttle, or parking at the Iron Springs Chateau Melodrama. Iron Springs Chateau Melodrama will cost you $10 during peak season, and $5 in the off season. I've never had to park before (since I had someone drop me off) so I can't officially recommend the best option.
I say again, this was harder than I expected. It was a busy day on the trail. Originally, I was a skeptic about reports of 1,000-plus people hiking this trail daily. It would be safe to say at least a thousand people were on the trail just during the two-hour window I spent there.
Make this trail a priority on your to-do list. The Labor Day weekend would be the perfect opportunity. From what I hear, there is road construction underway in the area near the climb's trailhead. You may have to hike a little just to get to the hike. Give it a shot, you'll be glad you did.